TV and radio presenter Tommy Boyd would ban pocket money if he were made Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Boyd, who famously presented children’s TV shows Magpie, Jigsaw and the Wide Awake Club in the 1970s and 1980s, was once paid the equivalent of £10,000 in 1985 to entertain the Crown Prince of Brunei at his ninth birthday party.
Now 66, he lives with wife Jayne, 63, in a £1.2 million house in Chichester, West Sussex. He is patron of Snowdrop, a charity for seriously ill children.
Tommy Boyd was persuaded me to put £100 a month into a pensions and he stuck with it for 25 years, ending up with a pot that had three times the amount he had put into it
How did your sister’s death affect you?
I found it difficult. My parents’ strategy at the time was to hope I would not notice Sally was dead. I know that sounds odd but they did not want to talk about it.
I shared a bedroom with her and on the night she died they sent me to bed as usual and her death was never discussed. When the funeral happened a few days later, I was packed off to school as normal.
All the neighbours had their curtains drawn as a mark of respect. I thought everyone was just late getting up that morning. I did not realise how difficult Sally’s death was for me. Now I know and I am patron of a local charity for seriously and terminally ill children called Snowdrop.
What was the first paid work you ever did?
When at 18, I got a job as a park play leader for the council. I turned up at the park in the summer holidays with a box of bats and balls and organised games. I got paid £16 a week. I loved it.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Yes. I had a few good years in the 1980s and I was attracted to the champagne lifestyle. So I bought myself a country cottage as a second home and a racehorse for £10,000. Then, bang, the recession hit and mortgage rates went through the roof.
With two mortgages to pay, we had to draw in our horns and beg people to hold off with demands for payment. Then I got a tax bill for £20,000. I remember thinking: surely that is an error and they mean £2,000. But it was not. I had to sell the horse, my first home and move into the cottage. For the first nine months, we did not have any electricity or gas – just a windmill at the bottom of the garden and some solar panels. But we managed.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Only once when I was asked to be the entertainer at the ninth birthday party of the Crown Prince of Brunei. They paid me £3,500 in 1985 – the equivalent of getting paid more than £10,000 today.
What was the best year of your financial life?
IT was 1985. I had four well- paid jobs. I was head of children’s television at TV-am and presented their Saturday and Sunday morning programmes. I had my own radio show and I was starting to write children’s books. I earned a six-figure sum that year which was a big deal back then.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
If you add it up over the years The Racing Post. It only costs £2 an edition, but when I think about the money I have wasted on the horses picked from it, the paper has probably cost me half a million pounds.
What is your biggest money mistake?
Starting a company importing and delivering mineral water with my wife in 1987. It all went well for a year and then we discovered we had calculated VAT incorrectly.
We thought we were making a profit but, in fact, we were making a loss: £10,000 in total.
The best money decision you have made?
Buying houses. I always bought the most expensive house we could afford. My best property purchase by far is the house we live in now. It is a six-bedroom detached house in Chichester that is 110 years old.
We bought it 25 years ago for £340,000 and it has gone up in value ridiculously to £1.2 million. It is our home, but also our nest egg.
Do you save into a pension?
I used to. I had an accountant who persuaded me to put in £100 a month and I stuck with it for 25 years. I ended up with a pot that had three times the amount I had put into it.
I was able to get a tax-free lump sum from it and an annuity. I am in favour of pensions. Because of the tax benefits, you end up saving more than you put in.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
I tried the stock market. Somebody advised me to buy shares in companies I used and understood so I bought shares in Guinness and BT. I would check them three times a day. Nothing happened. It was boring. So in the end, I sold them.
What little luxury do you treat yourself to?
Sometimes, a little flutter on a sporting event. It just makes it more enjoyable. I see it as a luxury because I do not tend to make money on my bets.
If you were Chancellor what would you do first?
I would provide more tax incentives for businesses to take on apprentices – and I would ban pocket money for secondary school students.
Parents instead would be required to give that money to the school so that at the end of each week the school could distribute a wage to the pupils that reflected their attendance, behaviour and performance.
What is your number one financial priority?
Having enough money, particularly so I can help my sons if they need my support.